I smiled as I leafed through my Real Simple Magazine that came today.

In it, they featured a project that I’ve done several times through the years & my best friend recently asked me for a tutorial on.


How to update a boring lampshade by adding fun stripes using fabric, ribbon, and other colorful items.


I made mine long ago before I began blogging, so sadly I don’t have any how-to photos.

If you don’t have the magazine, simply click here for an easy tutorial.


This lamp sits in Anton & Laith’s room and used to be a terribly boring and generic lampshade from Pottery Barn.


The lampshade originally had only two rust colored bands, which might be my most hated color…ever.

{did I mention it was originally a $40 lampshade that I got for $3.99?}


I knew I could make it better and more playful for a little boys room.


Sometimes you find the right thing when you’re out and about and don’t need to do a thing…


The ones next to Ben & my bed are from Target.


I love them, but I’ll admit…it kind of drives me nuts that they didn’t attach the grosgrain ribbon completely straight.

But maybe I’m being a little too picky.

. . . . . . . . . . .


It seems that striped shades are everywhere right now, so if you don’t have time or aren’t feeling crafty, there are tons of options out there.

shades of light

{shades of light}


{etsy – coconut beech}





What is it about stripes that adds such a fun punch to a room? Even the least daring of decorators could find the perfect one.

Would you try striping a shade??

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Today is Ezekiel’s 8th birthday.

And 5 days from now is his 2 year anniversary of coming to America.


{the 1st photo we ever saw of Ezekiel}

It’s amazing to me how God can fit someone so perfectly into a family when they didn’t come into it at birth.

I’m in no way saying it’s been easy the entire time, we’ve all grown as we’ve struggled together. But I will say that…

Ezekiel was made for our family. Or maybe we were made for him.

. . . . . . .

{{ Just warning you…there are a lot of photos in this post! }}

. . . . . . .

{click here for his story}


{5 minutes after meeting him!}


{when he found out Ben & I were his parents}



{the dining room at the orphanage}


{ezekiel’s bedroom}


{our Christmas card & Announcement that Ezekiel was joining our family}


{Ben had the extreme honor of meeting his mom and younger brother}


{can you believe this is about 5 weeks after we had bought him these brand new shoes? Just a tad bit active!}


{4 months after meeting Ezekiel…he got to come home!}

Can you believe how little he looks?! He grown so much in only 2 years!!

The Andersons-1001

{about a million times more nervous on this day than our wedding day!}

The Andersons-1010


{our 1st family picture together}


{day 2 of being in America we went for a walk to show him the neighborhood. Already bonding with his brothers}


{jumped into the deep end…we didn’t realize he didn’t know how to swim, oops.}


{he’s got a really special relationship with Christ. You should hear his prayers}


{april, 2011 – 1st easter with us…and NO english}



{summer, 2011 – the day Temesgen named himself & became Ezekiel}

Ezekiel teeth

{he had some health issues needed a few surgeries  - did it all with a smile}


{I absolutely love his relationship with Anton & Laith}


{I’m not sure they really remember life without him}




{august, 2012 – the day we moved from San Antonio to Denver}

{september, 2012 – 1st day of school – 1st grade}


{fall, 2012 – in Breckenridge}



{ summer, 2011 – soccer is his passion and already has more medals than we know what to do with}


{summer, 2012}


{4th of July, 2012}



{summer, 2012 – 1st time camping & fishing}



{summer, 2012 – 1st time to see the ocean}


{march, 2012 – voted by his peers to be the Most Caring – surprised with the award in an all school assembly}


{march, 2013 – 2nd year in a row for his peers to vote him the most Caring. An award well deserved!}


{easter 2013 – healthy, happy, and an amazing kid}


The Andersons-1024

 Happy Birthday, my sweet love. You have given us all so much joy.

Daddy & I are so proud of you.

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Did you ever know I never wanted kids? Well ok, I thought I never wanted them.

It wasn’t the path I thought my life would lead. I wanted to work internationally, perhaps get my masters & phd in art history {as I had studied in undergrad} and become a curator or work at a gallery.

But no. God had other plans for me.

He built me a family.

if you want to make God laugh

As we let out of church a few days ago {on Easter Sunday}, Ben saw an email from the Director of our adoption agency. Knowing she’s in Ethiopia right now, we figured it was new photos of Aberhem.

Instead however, the beautiful eyes of a tiny baby girl peered back at us.


Who is THIS?!

This is our new daughter.

As we sat there in our car, the current 4 excitedly talking about brunch and egg hunts, Ben and I had tears streaming down our faces as we scrolled through each photo. She’s breathtaking, her eyes and lips absolute perfection. She is so young, she has barely uncurled from being in the womb.



I had prayed & prayed for the Lord to show us if we were to have another baby biologically or through adoption {remember this post?}.

We’d placed ourselves on the Waiting List for a baby girl so long ago that to be quite honest, I didn’t even think about it anymore. We have gone back and forth on the idea of me getting pregnant again, but my pregnancies were SO awful. Amongst other places, Ben would find me passed out {from throwing up so much} in the hallway, just to get up for a glass of water. The idea of becoming pregnant was appealing. The reality of it though…with four children…I don’t know how I would do it. Nevertheless, it still weighed heavily on my heart.

john 14_18


God made the decision for me.

Want to know something funny though?

Just last week I decided maybe we were good. We have kids ages 2, 4, 5 & 7…with a 13 year old on the way. We’re almost done with diapers, we all sleep through the night. We have a routine. It’s busy, but it’s pretty easy actually. We’re in a good place. I {even if it were for a moment}, thought perhaps we were fine without the baby my heart has been yearning for.

Maybe that’s when God decided I was ready.

…once again, He must have laughed.

Ben and I now spontaneously burst into quick {hysterical?} laughter. Tears often prick my eyes at random times.

We will have SIX CHILDREN. SIX.


The girl who “didn’t want kids” is now often referred to as Mother Teresa {oh if I could only be half as amazing as she}. God, you have such an incredible sense of humor. Such trust of Ben and I. Truly, I’m not sure why. I feel like I fail too many times throughout the day. Miss opportunities to help the kids learn. Am too short or selfish with my time.

But I love them…oh Lord, how I love them. My family have tight hold of my heart and none of us have any desire of that letting go.

adoption - mark 9_37

I’m learning to have an open & willing heart and who knows what our future holds. Our lives are a million times more joyful, more fulfilling, more fun, {more everything!} than anything I could ever have planned by myself.

We’re not lucky…we’re blessed. And blessed far more than we deserve.



|| I can’t wait to show you photos of our newest 2…we’ll be able to in a few months after we travel to Ethiopia for our court appointment ||

from E

{note from Ezekiel to Ben & I}

Are you being called to be part of our story?

Because both Aberhem and Milki have come into our family without planning by us, we are having to fundraise this time.

Do you feel led to help?

. . . . . . . . .

 We GREATLY appreciate any amount you feel led to give. Truly, in ANY amount. If it’s giving up your morning Starbucks, that’s amazing. If it’s the amount of a few lunches out, we’re so grateful. If you feel like the Lord is calling you to really stretch yourself {as He is us!!}, please remember you are changing the lives of two children forever.

Anything. Truly, anything. Is such a generous & humbling gift.

From the bottom of our hearts…thank you.

 {click here to make a secure & tax deductible donation}


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This week I have gone all over town for Easter decorations that do NOT have to do with bunnies & candy.

Why on earth do {non cheezy} Christ-centered decorations not exist in stores??

I don’t get it.

amazing grace - easter

So…I thought I’d help us all out by finding some printables that reflect the REAL reason of this special day.

Hope it adds some joy to your tables & homes for Easter!

. . . . . . . . . . .

kiki & co

{kiki and company}

kiki & co 1

{kiki and company}

Easter 7{printable decor}


{jones design company}


{jones design company}


{jones design company}

Easter 2

{whimsicle design studio}

Easter 6

{rhonna designs}


{aka designs}

Easter 8

{aka designs}

. . . . . . . . . . .

Here’s our house as we prepare for Easter…how are you getting ready??

Easter 11

Easter 10

Easter 12

Easter 13

Easter 14

He is Risen

He is Risen…

He is Risen INDEED!

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I have hated the cluttery mess of the bookcase in our Master Bedroom since moving in. Truly, I have been waiting to be inspired about what to do with our bedroom in general.


Sigh… clutter is just not sexy. Not romantic. Not soothing.


I couldn’t handle it anymore so when the snow came this weekend & we were home and cozy…I finally had a chance to set to work.


{source - exact link unknown}

I’ve seen photos like this for awhile, so when I happened onto a bunch of fantastic wrapping paper at Home Goods a few months ago, I thought it’d be a perfect way to bring my bookshelf back to life!


If you sew, you probably have these items already. If not, you could certainly use other supplies.

A self-healing sewing mat is SO helpful for all sorts of diy projects, in addition to it’s intended use of sewing. A rotary cutter has been my best friend for many projects, as well.


After removing {and dusting} all the shelves, I placed one shelf on top of my wrapping paper to get the correct width.


Then using double stick scotch tape, I began to hang the paper.

I decided to use tape because I could easily re-stick it if the paper wasn’t aligning correctly, & because I could simply switch it out if/when I tire of the stripes {yes, this project is quick enough to redo when I feel like it}.


As I was halfway down my second row of shelf, I realized I was out of wrapping paper.

…after a quick freak out, I decided to puzzle together remnants of paper.


My dad always taught me to make mistakes into something better than what it would’ve been in the first place…so I clung to his advice!


No biggie. Books will cover it anyway.

Note to self though, buy more paper than you think you’ll need!


styling a bookshelf


Step 1:

Lay in your books

Vary how you place them. Some stacked, some leaning, some vertical. Play with it until it looks right. Make sure that one side doesn’t feel “heavier” than the other.



Step 2:

Next, place decorative items into empty spots within the books.

Use items that shine, have texture, and are unique {I always use plants when decorating my shelves, tables, and countertops because it instantly gives life}.


{Jewelry: Stella & Dot’s Dot Bloom Necklace and Chantilly Lace Cuff}

Display items you use everyday, or things that are beautiful, yet generally tucked away {like jewelry, for example}.


{Necklace: Stella & Dot’s Pegasus}


Oh! I almost forgot!

Yes, I decided to place my books backwards. I wanted a simple, clean, more monochromatic feel. I’d seen it at Anthropologie and loved it.

I have categorized every shelf by subject, so even if I were to look for a book, it would only take me a moment longer. I even quizzed myself {yes, I’m a dork}.


Step 3:

Make sure you include personal momentos. Don’t let it become like a beautiful shelf displayed at a store. Make sure it includes YOU and your family!

These photos are all we have from Ezekiel’s family in Ethiopia {read his story here}.


He, his mother, and sister Hannah.


Ezekiel and Hannah as babies.

His sweet mother gave them to Ben. I have no doubt she had no copies. What a treasured gift. Completely priceless.


I doubt I’m done moving, editing, & changing things on these shelves. But so far, I’m really liking it {really, anything is better than how it looked before}.


Slowly, another room in our house is beginning to take shape.

{need more styling ideas? Click here for beautiful photos from Fieldstone Hill Design’s blog}

. . . . . . .

What do you think? Would you update your bookcase like this?

take joy-signature-new-pink

I had so many questions and comments from this photo I posted on Facebook & Instagram recently… so I decided I should post about it.


For a few months, Ben has been asking me to make him a “salad in a jar” to take to work. Something about a lady he works with makes them for lunch everyday & he’d love to eat out less so could I make some?

I toooootally didn’t get the concept of it. Until I finally made it.


ok…now I get it. And it’s my new favorite thing.

quick tip:

if you don’t already have mason jars, purchase them at your local grocery store in the Canning section. You can get a dozen for just a couple dollars.


So here’s the concept…

Put the dressing on the bottom, then chicken, nuts, etc and not only will it marinade but it’ll also keep the lettuce {your next layer} from touching the dressing and getting soggy {so brilliant}.

You can make them days ahead & they remain fresh.


These are my favorite dressings of the moment {especially mixed together}.


In this jar {for the bottom layer}, I used my dressing combo above, rotisserie chicken, crumbled bacon, hard boiled eggs, & walnuts.


Then came the lettuce & fresh pear on top since that’d get mushy if left in the dressing.

{strawberries are a definite top of the jar item, too}


This was Ben’s lunch yesterday.

{think I may have gone a little overboard with the dressing. oops, sorry love}


I’m a huge berry fan so mine was filled with blackberries, rasberries, strawberries, as well as nuts, chicken, hardboiled eggs, and a few other items.



After dumping the contents of the jar onto my plate, this is what it looked like. I didn’t fluff, toss it, or anything.

The perfect salad.


Imani ate all my blackberries, but other than that I ate every bite!


So now our fridge looks like this.

And we’ll have lunch at our fingertips whenever we’re hungry {and no more trying to sneak a bite of the kids lunch}!

Need some more ideas??


salad in a jar


What would you put in your salad in a jar?


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from this . to this 1

I had originally bought Imani a different Easter dress but the other day as we strolled through Target, she began squealing about seeing a “princess dress”.

I mean, she was seriously freaking out about it. How funny…such a girl!


It’s a cute dress, but looks a little bridal to me. More flower-girl-ish than for Easter.

So I thought I’d make a few alterations…


I knew immediately that I wanted to change the sash so the rosebuds & bow had to go.



Do you have a seam ripper? It’s one of my favorite little tools.


Off came the flowers…then the bow in the back.



I like it better already! Just needs a little steaming before my next step.


I had hoped to find navy & white striped ribbon but after going all over town, I settled on this 2″ navy grosgrain ribbon from Hobby Lobby.

Because I didn’t want the sash to move around as she wears it, I made tiny stitches at the very bottom of the ribbon.

{maybe 1 or 2 mm stitches every 1/2 inch from side seam to side seam}


Next came the buttons.

I had thought about using preppy looking gold buttons, but Imani liked the bling. So we went with that.


I struggled with the spacing & whether to use 2 or 3 buttons. But I love how it turned out.


What a simple & fast project. Such a transformation from the cute but generic Target dress!



I’d hoped that Imani could model her beautiful new dress for you but my precious little girl has been sick all weekend.


I put it by her bed so she could ooh & ahh over it though. And she has. Again…such a girl.

I’ll definitely post some photos of her wearing it on Easter. Can’t wait for our little girl to look like the princess she is. 

…what is it with girls loving princesses…even at age TWO?!

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linking to these fun parties:

chic on a shoestring decoratingsumo’s sweet stuff | thirty handmade days | simply designing | katie’s nesting spot | diy showoff | craftionary | uncommon designs | coastal charm | love grows wild

I wasn’t going to do a third part to this little series but I’ve gotten several questions about our mantle, so I thought I’d do a quick little one.


This was our inspiration.

{from Centsational Girl, sadly I don’t have an exact link to the photo}

Once I tire of the chevron, I plan to have our incredible carpenter back to do the beautiful boxed frame paneling on either side of the fireplace, just like the one in the photo.


{{ We’ve come so far! }}

Because the brick initially came to the ceiling on one side, we needed to knock some of the brick out to reestablish symmetry.

{and get rid of that AWFUL 30 year old paneling}


After removing the mantle piece, there was still brick jetting out that had once held it up.


My handy husband removed those pieces since they were in the way of the new mantle.


I unsuccessfully tried to photograph the fantastic detail of the different depths.

Directly above the fireplace, the depth is 12″

The mantle’s shelf to the right and left is 7.5″


Our plan is to at some point, tile the inside area around the fireplace opening. I’d like to use river rock, but we haven’t totally decided.


We will also get rid of the horribly outdated insert and replace it with something like this…

fireplace insert

Doesn’t that look fantastically cozy????

Love it.


For now, I’m very content with how it looks. The gold in the vintage frame that now rests up above ties together the yucky gold behind the screen.

It’s not my first choice, but gold is making a comeback anyway so it’s a low priority since our to do list for this house is a loooooooong one!


Glad next Christmas our stockings won’t be teetering on uneven brick like they were this year!

Can’t wait to see how it changes between now and then!

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also see:

our fireplace | part 1 {chevron}

our fireplace | part 2 {chalkboard}


Awhile back I made several of these silver chalkboard trays & it gave me an idea.


What if I did a chalkboard above our fireplace????


I’d been trying to figure out what to do up there anyway.


After Ben finished painting it, I got a little nervous though.


The black was beautiful and velvety looking, but all of a sudden it really made the room feel small. But that was only for a moment.

Once we “seasoned” the wall, it lightened up and my enthusiasm grew!


{tip 1}

If you’re using a brand new chalkboard {as we obviously were with our wall}, it’s really important to “season” or “prime” it.

This will help lessen the ghosting that will appear. Ghosting is when you draw on a chalkboard and after it’s erased, you still see the image…but in black.



To season a chalkboard, simply use a full piece of chalk and run it along its side over the entire surface of the chalkboard.  Make sure to rub it in well.   Once the board is covered, erase it with a rag, etc.   It is now seasoned and ready to go!


{tip 2}

Once you’re ready to start on your script or image, dip your chalk in water before drawing. Anton liked seeing it fizz as the porous chalk took on the water. The color will appear richer & deeper than when using dry chalk.

It also allowed me to get into the grooves of our textured wall.


Continue dipping the chalk in water as you go. At first, the chalk color will look dull. Once it dries however it will be the bright, bold color you’re expecting.



Classy girl that I am, I snagged an old pair of socks from Ezekiel’s drawer and used one to blend {see above} & got the other wet to use as my eraser.


{{ Now to figure out what to write up there!! }}


I found this image on Pinterest and fell in love {source} with both the wreath-like quality of it, as well as her text {you need to go to her shop, by the way. fantastic}.


Sadly, I hate my handwriting so though this was my inspiration…I ended up just using it as that. Inspiration.



When I began this project, autumn was in all it’s glory and we were thinking about Thanksgiving.

I had lofty goals of doing a different scape for each month or season…unfortunately I realized that just wasn’t realistic for me right now.


So once our mantle was finally up, I decided to erase my text and build on it with items from around the house.

I love how it turned out…and I love that it can still be constantly changing.



What would look great on our chalkboard mantle next?


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also see:

our fireplace | part 1 {chevron}

our fireplace | part 3 {mantle}


This transformation has been nearly a year in the making.


Can you believe that we started with this??


…and then this???

We certainly had vision for our house, that’s for sure.


I had seen this photo on Pinterest awhile back and immediately knew I wanted to try it on our fireplace.

I’m so annoyed I can’t find the source. It’s the home of the couple that heads up much of Anthropologie’s displays. Amazing blog. Amazing ideas.

Bummer. Sorry.


My inspiration came into action last summer when my folks came to visit. Thought it would be fun to start with my Dad.


Anton & Laith loved helping, too. In their pj’s.


We decided to first build a template and decide on the size of the chevron. I wanted an impact and for it to be bold…yet not TOO busy.


Simply taping together regular-sized printer paper was the perfect solution.


After some trial and error, we finally got the measurements correct.


It was nice to be able to visualize how it’d look before we actually got the paint out.


Sneaking a washable marker from the kids stash, I marked the angles in our design so I’d be able to remove my template and easily see where to place my tape.


{{ hint 1 }}

I had bad luck with painters tape. The blue tape fell off almost as soon as I pressed it on, so I found good-old-fashioned masking tape in Ben’s toolbox. That pulled the paint right off the brick. Thank goodness for a trip to Home Depot and finding Frogtape. It’s a little more expensive, but worked fantastically.



We did end up getting Ben’s lazer out though to make sure all my angles were even.


Anton kept jumping up onto the mantle asking us to “shoot” him with the lazer. Such a boy.


Finally we began to paint. It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but I was really discouraged by the fact that even with my hours of taping, the lines weren’t perfectly crisp like I wanted because of all the texture from the brick.


{look how different it looks once we added the chalkboard paint! that diy comes in part 2}


{{ hint 2 }}

Ben, being the brilliant man that he is…thought of using this WITH the Frogtape.


We just squeezed some of the painters caulk onto the line where the tape and brick meet & with a rag, smoothed it across. Only do this where you’ll be painting. You obviously don’t need to do it on BOTH sides of the tape.


The benefit of this painters caulk is it fills the texture of the brick. So when painting, you won’t have it bleed or need to worry much about the bumps in the brick that you just can’t press the tape enough into to form a crisp edge.


Look how perfect it ended up being!


There was still some touch-up…but really not much.




Imani thinks it’s her little stage.

She loves it…how ’bout you?

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also see:

our fireplace | part 2 {chalkboard}

our fireplace | part 3 {mantle}


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